Location: Northern Maryland
August 13, 2010 8:37 pm
I caught this butterfly on a patch of black-eyed susans at our local zoo. I think this is a pearl crescent, but I’m not sure. Its coloring was similar to a lot of the butterflies on your site, but it took me a while to find a pattern that was close. So, pearl crescent or impostor?
We believe you have correctly identified this Pearl Crescent, Phyciodes tharos, as evidenced by images posted to BugGuide, however, the genus Phyciodes contains several very similar looking species, which you may also view on BugGuide. The Northern Crescent, Phyciodes cocyta, is easily confused, and BugGuide includes this information: “A lot of Pearls get called Northerns, and there is a lot of confusion between the two. It could be debated whether even some examples shown on Butterfly web sites and in books as “Northern’s” really are. The trait of a line through the middle of the hind wing in Pearls, and not in Northerns (at least in males) doesn’t always work, and should be taken with a grain of salt, and also the orange antennal clubs are only somewhat reliable (best in males). Generally Northerns are much larger and dominated by orange above, with the dark borders tending to be more narrow. The veins in the mid portion of the wing are more likely to be orange than in Pearl Crescents (more likely mostly black there). Pearls, especially the males, tend to have a lot more black above, and often very wide dark borders. Below the Northerns tend to be much more orange on the hind wings. None of these is a totally relaible trait by itself, and the “overall picture” is important, one needs to avoid focusing on just one or two details when trying to separate these two species.“